CU Reporter August/September 2009

Updates from Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc.

September 9, 2009 – 6:30 p.m.
(Our normal schedule is the second Wednesday of odd-numbered months) Millville Public Library, Gant Room

Presentation By
Larry Niles, PhD, Conserve Wildlife NJ

Larry Niles, PhDShorebird Migration—The Delaware Bay’s shores are a critical stopover area for six species of migrating birds including the red knot. The late May arrival of these birds coincides with the spawning of horseshoe crabs, producing one of the most dramatic natural phenomena anywhere in the world. Feeding on horseshoe crab eggs, the birds refuel and continue their journey to Arctic breeding grounds

Each year, scientists, researchers, birders, and local volunteers gather from all corners of the globe to assist with the Delaware Bay Shorebird Project, to study the shorebird phenomenon here in southern New Jersey. Dr. Niles will be giving a presentation on the results of this year’s Shorebird Project.

CU Updates:

Birding & Botany Breakfast Walks– These walks were well received and were a great way to start the morning! A number of the walks had over 20 participants. We saw over 45 species of birds, and other wildlife as well as a number of beautiful wildflowers in bloom.

BYOB Kayak trip/Potluck/Campfire– Twenty-five people joined us for our July 19th paddle on the Muskee – a first time expedition for many members. The meandering Pine Barrens stream has a quiet splendor. In the evening over 30 people gathered for a fantastic potluck and campfire at the historic brick-patterned home at Eagle Manor on the Cohansey. Our thanks to Laurie Pettigrew for hosting the campfire and to all the chefs!

OspreyOsprey Results– Osprey numbers were not quite as high as we would have expected, since we had added a number of new platforms. However, the new platforms picked up the slack of a number of failed older platforms, resulting in 71 new chicks. In 2008, we banded 74 chicks; that was a record year for us. We had over 20 people participate in various osprey duties this year and we racked up an astounding 133 volunteer hours. We will be constructing and putting up an osprey platform near the Millville Riverwalk so folks making use of the park might learn more about these energetic winged denizens.

Wetland Walk– In early July Tony Klock and Jane Galetto led a wetland walk for the Bayshore Discovery Project. The students were from Wissahickon Creek Environmental Center’s summer program, in Pennsylvania. The teens were very receptive. Their level of knowledge showed that their respective schools place a great deal of emphasis on environmental and science education. They were familiar with terms like biomagnifications, estuary, non point source pollution, anadromous fish, eggshell thinning, biocontamination, DDT and the like. It was impressive and heartening!

Elevate 2009July 10, A Great Day for Kids – For a number of years we have been hosting the Elevate program from Vineland to a day on the river. This year we started out with a slide show of past attendees. All of us were jazzed to have a fun filled day! The kids and chaperones kayaked, birdwatched, painted, took a boat ride, checked osprey and purple martin nests, and we seined for the bounty of the river. It was a miraculous time with picture-perfect weather. Steve Eisenhauer of the Natural Lands Trust was kind enough to bring kayaks and canoes for the participants. Our volunteers included Dave and Sue Fenili, Mary Ann and Tim Russell, John and Sue Leopold, Tony Klock, Irene Bird, Jane and Renee. Sue Fenili declared the event “magical.” And there was consensus that indeed it was.

New Optics– We have many occasions to introduce people to the wonders of observing nature. To date we have used a combination of borrowed binoculars and those that people bring. There is nothing like introducing someone to a pair of “capable/fine optics.” Detailed observations give people a more in-depth appreciation of nature. So we recently bit the bullet and purchased 7 pair of Zeiss binoculars (lifetime warranty)… the result is extremely positive. Many folks have asked about purchasing the same model for themselves. So far we have used them on the walks and during the martin festival. We will have many more occasions to put them to use. A special thanks to the National Park Service for making these purchases possible. If anyone is interested in helping to purchase additional pairs of binoculars, please let us know.

Bayshore Heritage Byway– Citizens United was instrumental in the South Jersey Bayshore Coalition’s hosting the Department of Transportation for the dedication of the Bayshore Heritage Byway. On July 22, the weather thankfully cooperated and we were able to hold the event on the grounds of the Hancock House. Commissioner Dilts’ staff asked for a Salem County venue (since he had not been to Salem thus far this year) and the Hancock House offered just the perfect spot with its rich history and great views of the river and wetlands. The Bayshore Coalition is awaiting word on a grant submission that would enable us to embark on the management plan for this trail.

Millville Planning Board– The planning board has endorsed enlarging the I-2 Interchange Zoning District at Routes 47 and 55 by 85 acres by reducing the Lakeshore Conservation Zoning District (LSC) by the same acreage. CU President Jane Galetto presented our concerns about expanding the mall acreage to three times its present size. Issues that were raised are the facts that the adjacent LSC protected space would be reduced and that the business uses would impact the ecology of the proximate area. We have been proponents of protecting the entire tract contiguous to the lake; however, the City officials prefer to develop a significant portion of that land. In terms of the magnitude of the protected space, the figures look approximately like this:  the overall tract of 400 acres in the LSC calls for a total of 40% protected space, thus creating about a 160 acre set aside. By removing 85 acres, there remains 315 acres in the LSC thus reducing the required protected space to 126 acres (these are approximations). The primary use of the 85 acres would be business and the City is especially interested in hotels. City Planner Kim Ayres gave a professional and compelling presentation to the board in support of changing the zoning to accommodate hotels and the like. The City Commission, as of the drafting of this newsletter, has not yet adopted the recommendation of the Planning Board to rezone the 85 acres as an I-2 Interchange. Further, we will need to focus attention on the prospect of preserving more space in the adjacent forest that borders Union Lake and remains in the LSC. Jane notes, “Unless the Commission embraces and advocates for the prospect of a Green Acres purchase I think we will see numerous homes on this property with a limited set-aside. The Commission must share our vision of a meaningful legacy if we are to be successful. We hope to work closely with the City as the prospects for the adjacent property moves forward.”

Website Offerings– We have great new website offerings. Our River Recollections River Reach Project is now available for the world to enjoy. Joseph Reeves’ book Maurice River Memories included a map naming various reaches of the river that watermen have used over the years. It was the catalyst for the larger River Reach project that appears online today. The stories are a combination of historic research and local lore. We think you will enjoy this virtual tour on the river. Additionally, we have added stories called Osprey Nest Anecdotes about our volunteers’ efforts to restore osprey on the Maurice and its tributaries. We hope you will check out these new offerings. Some of you may have seen the focus piece and editorial done by the Daily Journal on these additions. Thank you, Daily Journal!

Purple MartinPurple Martin Migration Spectacular – Well, the purple martins surely didn’t let us down! Friday evening they arrived in waves and delighted the attendees. On Saturday night, the organizers saw their numbers building on electric wires, but we were beginning to wonder if the birds might have migrated early when suddenly as if someone had rung a bell for bedtime they descended upon the phragmites, whirled and swirled, and settled in for the night. In all, 126 people observed from the Bodacious, as many or more made use of the platform, about 20 folks kayaked and a number of motorized crafts showed up to see the spectacle. Special thanks goes to Maurice River Township’s Linda Costello, and to CU members Karen Johnson, Janet Crawford, David Lord, Leslie and Tony Ficcaglia, Allen Jackson, John Leopold, Tony Klock, Sandra Keller, Kathy and Bob Michel and Jane Galetto;  New Jersey Audubon volunteers Mary Jane and Chuck Slugg, Warren Cairo,  Will Kerling, and NJ Audubon Staff  Don Freiday and Chris Tonkinson. And thanks to the Natural Lands Trust’s Brian Johnson and Steve Eisenhauer for bringing kayaks on Friday.

Cumberland Reminder CU By-liners– We are very pleased with the CU stories that have been appearing in the Cumberland Reminder. We hope you will continue to check out our press releases and column. Tony Klock recently wrote a neat story on the returning migration of neotropical songbirds through our bayshore region.  A special thank you to John Andrus and the staff of the Cumberland Reminder for their kind coverage of our area’s news.

Pinelands Commission– We continue to participate in a project that maps roadside rare plants throughout the Pinelands, which will be used to present to municipalities along with Best Management Practices guidelines for roadside maintenance.

Meetings and webinars– We have been busy!Jane and Renee continue to attend various meetings and webinars, such as the East Point Lighthouse Planning Committee, South Jersey Bayshore Coalition, New Jersey Audubon, Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee, etc.

FlowerBotany website-Work continues on the botany website with dynamic pages that show what is in bloom and in fruit during various time periods in the growing season. To date, the end of October bloom-time is completed, with more than 325 plants profiled.

Millville Summer Fest on the River- A number of individuals enjoyed CU’s Paint-a-Landscape. The Enviroscape and aquifer model were on hand for visitors all day to learn about non-point source pollutions and aquifers. Jane Galetto and Tony Klock led a nature walk along the river, Andrea Kornbluh held a water testing activity, and volunteers included Jennifer Lookabaugh Swift, David Lore, Dave and Sue Fenili, Doug McMahon, Ed Fiore, and Rob and Donna Dailey. A special thank you to the Summer Fest Staff, especially Pam Gavigan and Kim Ayres.

Philadelphia Botanical Club trip– Over thirty people from various organizations, including a number of CU members, attended this botanical field trip led by Dr. Gerry Moore, Brooklyn Botanic Garden & Renee Brecht. We visited a number of locations including the site of the globally rare sensitive joint vetch.

Monarch Migration workshops– Sue Fenili, CU trustee, who visited the monarch overwintering site in the state of Michoacan, Mexico last year, taught Monarch Teacher Network workshops at the Sewell Educational Information and Resource Center. Approximately 50 Down Jersey curriculum packets were distributed to participating teachers.

New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide– NJ Fish and Wildlife biologist and CU member Laurie Pettigrew is compiling the newest NJ Wildlife Viewing Guide. Our members have contributed photographs for the new book. We can’t wait for the newest edition- go, Laurie!

New Recipes– New recipes have been added to the on-line chili cookbook.  In particular we have included desserts that were enjoyed at the Bayshore Heritage Byway dedication made by DOT employee Cindy Bloom-Cronin – thanks, Cindy!

Raptor Waterfowl Survey– The field ornithologists Clay Sutton and Jimmy Dowdell have submitted their newest survey, our 22nd year of data. And they have done the first survey of the 23rd year. Way to go, gentlemen.

Volunteer Opportunities and Events:

September 12, 2009 Wildflower ID workshop– Vineland Public Library. We are collaborating with the Vineland Public Library and the Vineland Environmental Commission to offer this opportunity. Participants will learn how to use Newcomb’s Field Guide for Flowers to identify wildflowers, and are encouraged to join us at the conclusion of the workshop at the Willow Oak Natural Area to practice their newfound skills. Preregistration required; contact

Fall walks – A continuation of our summer series of walks on the Maurice River Recreational Trail. Join us on Tuesdays 9 a.m. from September 22 – October 20th! Meeting at Waltman Park on Brandriff Ave.

Osprey Project Volunteers– If you are interested in helping construct and place an osprey nest in the aforementioned location on September 20, please call Jane Morton Galetto 609-774-5853. Tentatively the work will be done from 12:30 p.m. to approximately 4 pm.

Kayak Instructional Workshop – We tentatively hope to hold a kayak instructional workshop in September or October offered by a CU member who is a certified instructor with the American Canoe Association. If interested, please contact Renee at

MonarchSeptember 26th-So much to do! Three events to choose from: CU is hosting a Butterfly walk in Cape May Point State Park; East Point Lighthouse is holding its annual Open House; and Cumberland County Improvement Authority is conducting its autumn Waterways Cleanup. Contact Renee at for more information on any of these events.

October 9th, 6 p.m. Historical Recollections Campfire– We will hold a campfire/potluck meal at Mary Ann and Tim Russell’s on the river. Our campfires events have been over-the-top popular.  Bring your lawn chairs and musical instruments. It is necessary to RSVP for the event-Contact Renee at or 856 305-3238 for more information.

RSVP! Space Limited  “Ah Why Knot” – Thirty Years! This fund-raising event is soon approaching – October 17th, 6:30 p.m., so invite your family and friends and plan to attend our annual steak and salmon dinner while giving accolades to you, our members, for all of your hard work and dedication to CU and our mission. As in previous years, there will be Red Knot Awards given in several categories to volunteers whose volunteerism efforts have been outstanding. There will also be a President’s award. A donation of $50 per person is suggested. Contact Renee to make reservations or to volunteer to help with planning, shopping, set-up, cooking, beverage set-up, and breakdown – (856-305-3238 or If you are interested in sponsorship, please contact Jane at 856-327-1161 or

Natural Events for the month of September:

  • The last brood of monarch butterflies emerges and begins southern migration to Mexico.
  • Northern hemisphere – autumnal equinox.
  • Black gum foliage turns red – first tree to get its autumn color, followed quickly by sassafras and then red maple.
  • Wild grapes ripen.
  • First year osprey begin southern migration.
  • A variety of turtles’ eggs hatch.
  • Robins begin to form in large flocks.
  • Bats busy feeding, building fat reserves for hibernation and migration.
  • Broad winged hawk migration peaks in mid-month.
  • Deer still in velvet
  • Ripe wild cherries attract many birds.
  • Most ruby-throated hummingbirds have departed by the end of the month.
  • Sora rails and red-winged blackbirds feast on wild rice on southern migration route.
  • Warm water and cold air create early morning fog.
  • Many resident birds start to migrate south: whip-poor-wills, nighthawks, kingbirds, crested flycatchers, and swallows. Several warblers continue to pass through the area.

Natural Events for the month of October:

  • Pine barren gentian in bloom in the Pinelands.
  • Goldenrods, asters, bonesets, and blazing star in bloom.
  • Cranberry harvest in the Pinelands.
  • Autumn foliage colors peak in late October.
  • The greatest variety in raptor migration comes in mid-October, with golden eagles, redshouldered hawks, and more.
  • Fox sparrows, one of the largest sparrows, are often seen under seed feeders during their autumn migration.
  • Juncoes return.
  • Buck moths, a daytime flying moth, are abundant in the Pines.
  • Woolly brown caterpillars (Isabella tiger moth) are often seen travelling along the ground.

Adapted from CU’s Seasons on the Maurice, Gloucester County Nature Club, A Pine Barren Odyssey by Howard Boyd, and Bits of a Batsto Year by Annie M. Carter

CU on the River!